Transforming shellfish waste into innovative packaging
CuanTec is a revolutionary Scottish biotech company using the waste products of the shellfish industry to change the packaging industry. Their product comes from nature and will go back to it. Unlike current packaging their circular methods will not leave lasting damage or chemical traces for future generations to deal with.
Rethinking resources – extending the shelf life of fresh seafood, allowing fresh food to last longer.
Saving greenhouse gas emissions – using raw materials that would otherwise be
incinerated, saving tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
HOW THEY DID IT
CuanTec have designed their methods to be a zero waste, circular process using waste from another industry as their raw material and ensuring any by-products are repurposed. They extract a natural compound called chitin from the waste shells of the fishing industry and transform it into a product that will degrade back into its natural components.
They generate ‘chitosan’ which has antimicrobial properties and it is mixed with other natural biopolymers to create the world’s first home-compostable, antimicrobial food packaging. Their packaging, CuanSave, is similar to standard packing in appearance (thin, flexible and transparent) but it has two very different properties. Firstly, it is fully home-compostable – there is no need for industrial conditions for composting. Secondly, chitosan’s antimicrobial properties mean it can extend the shelf-life of food wrapped in it, helping to prevent food waste.
Their redesigned chitin extraction process uses significantly less harmful chemicals that produce toxic waste. Their main by-product from extraction is a high protein ‘soup’ that they hope to formulate into a feed for salmon, again putting back into nature rather than creating a waste stream. The antimicrobial properties of chitosan make their packaging antimicrobial, therefore extending the shelf life of fresh fish by 40%. This helps prevent food waste, a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It also saves the economy billions for producers, retailers and consumers. Finally, of course, their product is fully home-compostable and will decompose into compounds safe for the environment.